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At Last, A Not-So-Mean Bean?

Venezuelan researchers say they have found a solution to the "gas" problem associated with eating beans: the key is " premature fermentation." It has long been known that beans cooked in liquid left over from a previous batch tend to be less "gaseous" when eaten. That's because the bacteria in the liquid initiate the fermentation that must otherwise occur in the gut, and it is fermentation that produces gas.

By isolating the bacteria and treating beans with it before cooking, the same objective can be achieved, the researchers argue. Their experiments, they claim, produced cooked beans that not only were bystander-friendly but lost no nutritional integrity.

Their solution might now quell the dispute raging in South Africa, where an advertisement for a sweet onion marketing firm implied that consumers can avoid the, ahem, unpleasant social consequences of eating beans by switching to sweet onions ("no tears, no burn and definitely no stink," the ad promises). Objections by the country's Dry Bean Producers Organization claiming "product slander" led to a ruling by the South African Advertising Standards Authority that it is an "objectively determinable factual reality" that, yes, eating beans DOES lead to intestinal gas.

With that problem cleared up, the Standards Authority can now turn to examining the possible link between garlic and halitosis...

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